Cooking Fatigue Strategies
Last spring, when the pandemic was getting underway and we were stuck at home, cooking at home became a necessity and for some, a fun novelty. We dabbled in more complex dishes and baking projects including sourdough bread. But months later, having to cook three meals a day every day for your family, or even for couples and singles, cooking may be tiresome. What’s a burned out cook to do? Here are a few ideas for coping with cooking fatigue.
Make a no or low cook meal.
Tired of cooking? Then don’t! Make a nice snack board full of cheeses, meats, mustard, nuts, pickles, fruit, crackers, etc. Or heat up some canned soup and put together some sandwiches. Make a salad that includes some kind of protein like cooked chicken or flavored tofu. Make some sandwich wraps. Who said every dinner has to be about slaving over the stove?
Make a sheet pan dinner
Sheetpan dinners are super easy. Sheetpan meals are great because everything cooks at the same time using only one pan. With minimal effort and even easier clean up, you can have a delicious meal on the table in a short time. Here are some great sheet pan recipes. And here are some nice vegetarian sheet pan dinners.
Make a large batch dinner
Make some chili, lasagna, stew, casserole, sloppy joes, etc. and double the recipe. Freeze what you don’t eat and thank yourself later for when you don’t feel like cooking and all you have to do is reheat.
Prep meal components ahead of time
Make a variety of meal components and have them ready to go in the fridge or freezer for easy meals later in the week. Cook up a batch of grains like rice or barley to make fried rice, pilaf, etc. Cooked grains freeze well too. Cut up veggies, prep lettuce, bake up some potatoes, grill some chicken, cook some beans, boil some eggs, etc. and use these components to make tasty meals through the week.
Make some dressings and sauces
If you have a great homemade dressing ready to go, you will be much more likely to eat a salad. Some delicious homemade sauces will really punch up your usual meals as well and make you feel like you’re eating something completely different. You will also be more invested in using them if you made them yourself. Using dressing or sauce from a bottle just isn’t the same, and never tastes as good.
Buy a rotisserie chicken
Buy a cooked chicken from Oryana West, some nice bread, a bottle of wine, and all you have to do is whip up a vegetable or a salad to go with it. If you have leftover chicken, use it to make chicken quesadillas or chicken salad. Make broth with the chicken carcass.
Make something you would not normally make or break out of your routine and make a dish you are not familiar with. You could research some classic dishes of your cultural roots. If all goes well it will be a dish you really enjoy that you can add to your rotation, but if you end up not liking it, you will at least have learned something.
Sign up for cooking newsletters
Start doling out your email to food bloggers and see what recipes you get every week, for some new inspiration. It’s easy enough to unsubscribe if you don’t like what you’re getting but if you get just one good recipe a week, it’ll be worth it. Here are a few you might not be familiar with.
Try a meal planning app
There are lots of great apps to help you figure out not only what to eat but that also give you a shopping list. The less thinking about it all, the better, right? With mealime.com for example, you choose the type of diet you want i.e. vegan, paleo, low-carb, etc., how many servings you want, what ingredients you want to avoid, and it generates great recipes with shopping lists. Check out this list of meal planning apps.
Easiest Meal Ideas
And finally, here are some ideas for easy meals.
Box Macaroni & Cheese Hacks
15 Minute Dinners
Greek Halloumi Salad
Baked Potatoes with Different Toppings
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Foil Packet Dinners
One Pot Pasta